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Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

  • 2-27-2012

An Italian cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board is without power in the Indian Ocean following a fire. No one has been injured.

The Costa Allegra is adrift in the dark more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, near Alphonse Island.

Tug boats are on their way to the liner but will not reach it until around 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

The ship is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in a room housing electric generators. It did not spread and there were no injuries or casualties.

Inspections of the state of the engine room are on-going, the company says.

Ship immobilised

The liner sent out a distress signal, Costa Cruises said, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.

There are no electric lights on board the ship as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going.

The Italian authorities have directed three merchant ships and two fishing vessels towards the stricken liner.

The authorities in the Seychelles say they have sent two tug boats and a coastguard ship to the scene.

The closest vessel to the ship - a French fishing boat - is likely to reach the Allegra at around 2300 GMT, ahead of the tug boats.

A spokesman for Costa Cruises said the situation on board was calm and the ship was stable.

Captain Giorgio Moretti said a helicopter would bring fresh food to the liner on Tuesday morning, as it is without cooking facilities.

Captain Moretti said it had not been decided whether to try to transfer the passengers to other ships, or leave them on board until it is tugged to shore.

A plane from the Seychelles flew over the cruise ship and confirmed that there was "no danger for the people on board," according to Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard.

Cmdr Nicastro told the BBC that it took the crew a few hours to extinguish the fire.

Although the ship is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there are "no problems for the passengers," he said.

There are 636 passengers and 413 crew on board the Costa Allegra, which left Madagascar on Saturday.

It was due to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.

Further destinations on its itinerary include Alexandria and Naples in the Mediterranean.

Somali pirates are known to operate in the area where the ship is adrift, though they have never seized a cruise liner.

Nine members of the Italian navy's anti-pirate unit are on board the ship as a precaution.

A facility on Costa Cruises' website allowing people to track the Allegra's position says that "data transmission is temporarily suspended".

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January.

The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated. He denies any wrongdoing

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC


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